CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (NNS) – January 18, 2016 – July 16, 2015 was a Thursday as any other at the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Chattanooga. Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith reported to work just as any other work day. At approximately 10 a.m., this day took a turn when Mohammed Abdulazeez rammed his vehicle through the security gate and opened fire at the NOSC, killing four Marines, wounding another, and seriously wounding LS2 Smith. He was hit with three bullets, which pierced his stomach, colon, liver, and arm. On July 18, after a two-day fight for his life, 26-year-old Randall Smith became the fifth fatality in the shooting incident.
After extensive investigations, the July attack was deemed as having been inspired by a foreign terrorist organization, which made Petty Officer Smith, along with five others, eligible to receive the Purple Heart Award. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said he hoped would comfort the families in some way.
The Purple Heart Ceremony for Smith was held Jan. 14. Speakers at the ceremony included Vice Adm. Robin Braun, Chief of Navy Reserve/Commander, Navy Reserve Force commanding officer; Captain Matt Berta, Commander, Navy Region South East Reserve Component Command; Commanding Officer, Navy Operational Support Center Chattanooga, Lieutenant Commander Timothy White; and most importantly Angie Smith, beloved wife of our heroic fallen shipmate Randall Smith.
Jan. 14 is a day Angie Smith will remember forever. Not only because it was the day her husband was posthumously awarded the nation’s oldest and one of the most honored military medals, but it was also their wedding anniversary and the day that Randall graduated from Navy boot camp.
Angie, standing tall and strong as always, made a poignant speech during the ceremony bringing tears to all but, at the same time remembering the light-hearted side of Randall. At one point during her speech, Angie commented on conversation between them.
Angie recalled Randall said, “‘I will always remember Jan. 14.'” Angie said she excitingly asked, “‘Why, because you married me? No, you big dummy — because I graduated boot camp.'” This is the side of Randall she wants all to remember.
“Although the Purple Heart can never possibly replace this brave Sailor and these brave Marines, it is my hope that as their families and the entire Department of the Navy team continue to mourn their loss, these awards provide some small measure of solace,” Mabus said. “Their heroism and service to our nation will be remembered always.”
Braun said in a statement, “The entire Navy Reserve Force was deeply saddened at the passing of LS2 Randall S. Smith. He was a dedicated Sailor who cared deeply about his family, his community, and his country. His service and, indeed, his life will remain an inspiration for his Shipmates and all who were fortunate enough to have known him.”
The Purple Heart was presented to the Smith’s eldest daughter, Lyla, with ceremonial medals being presented to all of the Smith girls.
Smith was born April 16, 1989, in Paulding, Ohio. He joined the U.S. Navy in 2010. After graduating boot camp at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, he attended logistics specialist “A” school aboard Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi. Smith then served three years aboard amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) before transferring to Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Chattanooga in August 2014. There, he was responsible for supporting supply management and operations.
Smith was active in the First Baptist Church of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and enjoyed watching sports and volunteering his time. He was also attending college at Ashford University, where he was working toward a degree in hospital administration.
Smith is survived by his wife, Angie; daughters Lyla, Eila and Kyla; father Tracy Smith; and several other family members.